Does Russia have a strategy for Central Asia?

Central Asia is the only sub-region of Eurasia that appears in Russian official documents as a coherent region. The other sub-regions are not singled out – the documents simply list the countries. However, can we say that Russia really has a separate regional strategy for Central Asia?

It should be noted that no consolidated community or a single region with a common identity on the basis of the entire post-Soviet space ever emerged since 1991. On the one hand, it was assumed that the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as an organization had sufficient political and economic opportunities to influence regional and world politics, to participate in political and economic processes developing in the world. The CIS is an indispensable and sought after partner of various international organizations, including the United Nations, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and others, and is capable of making a due contribution to maintaining international security and stability in the region and the world. The CIS can be considered as a kind of a “bridge” between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

On the other hand, for most of its member states, the benefits of consolidated interventions in the international arena are far from obvious. As a result, although the CIS has an international legal personality from the formal point of view, it is practically absent in the international arena as an independent actor. This radically distinguishes the CIS from structures such as the European Union (EU) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in terms of the possible impact on the international political order in Eurasia and the world.

Full paper in English  Полная версия на русском

Yulia Nikitina is Associate Professor at the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO).

The policy paper is produced as part of a project “Debating International Relations in Central Asia: Regional Developments and Extra-Regional Actors”. The project is led by Shairbek Dzhuraev and Eric McGlinchey with support of the Hollings Center for International Dialogue. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Crossroads Central Asia and/or the Hollings Center for International Dialogue.

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